Your next Camcorder?

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daveswan
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Re: Your next Camcorder?

Post by daveswan »

Hello folks!
Been away from the forum for a while, thought I'd check in to see what's happening :) .
After a particularly traumatic experience with our Sony PDx10, basically massive dropouts and a total loss of sound for about 10 mins of a 22 min take :roll: , I've been put right off anything involving rotating mechanical parts, and will recommend the school's next 'corder is solid state.
As for myself, I already shoot SS with a Panny HVX200, which is a real doddle to edit with Avid MC.
If, and it's a big IF, I buy a new camcorder I may well move sideways as it were and upgrade my Canon EOS 5D for the MkII, especially now there is manual control over exposure. The main thing holding me back at the moment, (Apart from finance :( ), is the 30 fps frame-rate, which is use to neither man nor beast. If they correct that I may well stump up for one, as I an in the process of acquiring old manual lenses, Jupiter 9 85 f/2 (Russian) and Leica 21 mm f/4 and 180 f/3.4.
Cheers to all,
Dave
tom hardwick
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Re: Your next Camcorder?

Post by tom hardwick »

Did you find out what caused that huge PDX10 failure Dave? Could the heads have been damaged by running a crumpled tape past them? It wasn't just a microphone failure causing the audio loss, was it?

The Canon 5DII is an interesting beast but an ergonomic nasty for shooting movies I would think. It's good that the latest revision has added manual exposure control, but it really does need a flipping, rotating screen, 25 fps and proper XLR inputs if you want to make films.

It's early days but it's shows the way forward: bigger chips. Yet at the other end of the spectrum Panasonic have introduced their range of camcorders using a new 1"/8 chip. Being so tiny it allows 70x optical zooms to be fitted in a palmcorder, something the big chip machine will never have.

tom.
daveswan
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Re: Your next Camcorder?

Post by daveswan »

Hi Tom.
No, it wasn't the mics, as this happened at the end of a series of recordings, all of which were ok.
There were also massive amounts of macroblocking noise, skipped frames judder and droppouts on one audio channel. We'll be sending it to Thear technologies to have it serviced, when I can get the budget, it could be a complete head job, £500+ :(
I'm not too worried about the audio capabilities of the 5DII, as I would go double-system using the Zoom H4N recorder, and I think the form-factor of the 5DII is too small to accommodate XLRs comfortably, as well as annoying the whole photographic community!
I was looking at Red's Scarlet cam until it was so delayed that the economy and the collapsing exchange-rate put paid to that idea :(
Maybe in a year or two I'll look at it again.
Dave
tom hardwick
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Re: Your next Camcorder?

Post by tom hardwick »

Of course you've got to consider if spending £500 on a 6 year old SD camcorder with tiny 1"/5 chips is a sensible thing to do in light of Canon's HV30 price. I tested the PDX10 for Computer Video magazine in 2003 and sorry to say but I was not impressed.

Things are a-changin', and I'm sure that Red, Sony, Panasonic and Canon are working on camcorders with bigger chips. It's the best way to better low light sensitivity and give more effortless smoothness - in the same way as big loudspeakers do.

tom.
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ADBest
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Re: Your next Camcorder?

Post by ADBest »

I have been lurking about the AIC forum for a few days to familiarise myself with the activity and thought I had better make myself known.

As a member of an IAC affiliated club I have been trying to get our members excited about the current rapid state of flux in the camcorder market. To obtain some background in the subject I was following this thread. Noticing that it started in 2007 and continues to the present I thought that all I had to do was to read patiently through the six pages of posts to find the answers to my questions.

Unfortunately there seems to be a gap in the posts from 6th Nov 2007 to the 22nd June 2009 thus omitting all the interesting developments.

Am I missing something?
tom hardwick
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Re: Your next Camcorder?

Post by tom hardwick »

You're not missing anything. The forum allows you to pick any topic of any age and read it and add to it as much and as often as you like.

You're right to say camcorders are changing, and changing fast. The new JVCs are all card driven and the Sonys run with CF readers clipped to their rear ends. HDD camcorders are very popular with the compact set and tape is really on the way out as SD cards (in particular) come down in price.

It's still way more expensive than tape per GB (about 15x more expensive in fact) but the newer compressions systems such as AVCHD mean better quality at higher bit rates and full 1920 resolution. MPEG2 to tape is starting to look old, though is wonderfully backwards compatible.

So although Mini DV tape was once the standard across the board, now we have P2, SxS, SD and CF flash memory camcorders, recording in all sorts of compression methods. Still, tape drive camcorders will be around for a long time to come as the decks are needed to decode the millions of tapes up on our shelves.

tom.
Last edited by tom hardwick on Thu Jul 23, 2009 8:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Stephen
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Re: Your next Camcorder?

Post by Stephen »

been playing with the new toy the last few days... JVC HM200 camcorder

purchased only because I'm sick of missing opportunities when lugging the Z5 around would be impracticable..
man ... this thing fits in yer trooser pocket!!!

what a crackin little camera ... full HD 1920x1080 ... all saved to SD card - the camera is a dual slot ... with x2 32Gb cards in it, it can record continually for 5 hours! ... if 1 card fills up it automatically records to the next ... neat... at the mo x1 8Gb card gives 55mins of shooting...

its pretty carp in low light (6 lux) but I was never intending it to be used in those conditions.. in good light the pictures are outstanding! there is a canny x20 optical zoom with it

stick it on the likes of a gorillapod ( as i can never hold these dam tiny things steady enough!!!) and you will get rock steady shots usually impossible with bigger video cameras!!
hey .. and it is tiny.... nay....nay.... TINY.... and weighs no more than a pygmy's sandshoe... :wink:

lots and lots of settings to play with as you can stick it in full manual if you so desire ... but dont bother ...the menu is impossible with the logic of demented camel on speed...
the absolutely best thing is the sd card AVCHD file system.... stick the sd card in your bog standard card reader connected to your pc and..... bang ... the files are on your hard drive like a rat out of an aqueduct..


hey ...nearly forgot ... it can be got at costco for 329 sobs with another 50 off that from JVc .... and a 5 year warranty !
SD cards ...8GB class 6from 7dayshop.com....

I have no link with JVC or Costco or 7dayshop .... just passing on anything of use to all you budding film makers !
:D :D
Stephen

Film making is not a matter of Life and Death
It's much more important than that.
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ADBest
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Re: Your next Camcorder?

Post by ADBest »

Thanks for that quick response.

I produced a suggested presentation to the club recently and thought I might précis it to this thread but if you understand why it was produced then it is much quicker to simply repeat it.

If anyone out there knows the answers and lives anywhere near Thirsk please put us out of our misery.


Basis of a club presentation

A talk which addressed the following questions would be of great interest to all video enthusiasts who lie between the non-editing, holiday only, camcorder user and the semi-pro wedding videographer or the keen IAC club member. Put another way, the former spend £100 to £200 on a camcorder, the latter £1500+, and those of us in the middle between £500 and £1000.

Discus the proposition that the emergence of cheap and miniature hard drives, DVD writers and memory cards has encouraged camcorder manufacturers to concentrate their investment and marketing drive on such equipment. By the nature of the storage medium, the captured video must be highly compressed and therefore inferior to the traditional mini-dv with which we are all familiar.
Bearing in mind that some very large percentage, say 90%, of camcorder users are of the point and shoot, non-editing variety then the manufacturers will naturally direct their research and marketing effort and investment in this direction.
Up until very recently mini-dv was used across both the holiday video maker market and the enthusiast market. This meant that the research was common to both markets with price being directly related to camcorder features. Manufacturers sold large numbers of minimum feature units and so made the return on their investment and we ‘enthusiast’ users had a free ride on the back of the ‘holiday’ user.

If the above is true then the present ‘enthusiast’ specification camcorder will disappear and we will be left with the choice of finding ways to live with the lower resolution, compressed data of the hard drive and DVD camcorders or investing in the lower reaches of the semi-pro specifications. There are a number of other issues to be addressed later but sticking with the current line of thought what is the best way forward?

The semi-pro, mini-dv, route means that we carry on as we are with the editing systems of our choice. The fall out of this choice means that fewer people will be attracted, or remain with, the hobby as the all up cost will significantly increase. The alternative of using the compressed data formats cannot therefore be ignored.

We begin now to address the other issues mentioned above. Just how inferior are the new video formats? Can we live with them? We may have to!

Just what is compressed video? As I understand it the fundamental principle is that a full pixel by pixel record is recorded every so many frames and that for intermediate frames only the pixel differences between each frame are recorded. Of course the software has to make a judgement as to just how ‘different’ a pixel has to be to be considered ‘different’.
I also understand that the DVD process uses a similar form of data compression and therefore the mass market of holiday videographers, who simply wish to download their footage to a DVD for home consumption do not have a problem.
Those of us who wish to edit the footage are used to having the data for each frame recorded and therefore able to carry out frame by frame edits. This is not possible with compressed video and therefore before editing the data must be de-compressed. Not an easy task as the software must make exactly the same judgements, in reverse, as to whether a pixel is ‘sufficiently’ different to merit change or is ‘near enough’ the same. It must then reconstruct each intermediate frame. This must surely mean that the codec used in the editing system must be exactly the same as that used in the camcorder. Does this mean an editing system for every make of camcorder or all camcorders using the same codec. The track record of the industry in agreeing common standards on anything leaves us, the customer, very sceptical.
The whole process appears to lose data as it is recorded on the media within the camcorder and then further loses data as it de-compresses into the computer for editing. After editing it then further deteriorates as it is processed onto the final distribution media. Is the sum total of this deterioration acceptable?

If, on top of this format revolution, we superimpose the HD, (‘high definition’), concept, then we multiply the problems. Does HD make any sense at the lower end of the market? This leads to questions concerning the rate at which the cost of blue-ray discs and player-recorders will fall.

If an enthusiast, (for example most members of this club), were to wish to buy a camcorder right now what advice may be given bearing in mind the current apparent state of flux in the market. The 16 x 9 format would appear to be with us now and we should presumably be looking for 16 x 9 CCDs. How is the choice of a 3 CCD camcorder influenced by the new compressed data format?
tom hardwick
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Re: Your next Camcorder?

Post by tom hardwick »

Some points raised in your post. You say that the new cameras record, 'highly compressed and therefore inferior to the traditional mini-dv', but I can't agree with you. AVCHD is a much more advanced and efficient compression system than the older MPEG2 (the latter used to record HDV to MiniDV tapes and also used to record to DVD).

Higher compression means you'll need a computer with lots of grunt, and herein lies the dilemma - people buying dinky camcorders that record to AVCHD on SD card find out later that although they could afford the camcorder, they hadn't reckoned on needing a new computer to be able to edit it. Salesmen tend to keep a bit stum about such piffling details.

Standard definition (SD) DV onto MiniDV tapes is compressed about 5:1, but as you say, individual frames are recorded and the footage can be cut frame accurately without any transcoding. But SD camcorders have all but disappeared, and HD models are no dearer to make but sell a lot easier.

When HDV is recorded to Mini DV, that MPEG2 footage (1440 x 1080) has to be decoded before it can be frame accurately cut. The new SD card cameras are all 1920 x 1080 (they call it 'full HD') and they too need the footage decoded to edit it.

You ask, 'how inferior are the new video formats?' I say they're not at all inferior - quite the contrary - they're much better. The camcorders may be pretty so-so (what can you expect for £600?) but the potential of AVCHD is a lot higher than ever HDV was. Can we live with AVCHD? Yes.

What camera would I suggest an enthusiast looks at? Well, the bargain has to be Canon's HDV XH-A1s and the AVCHD Panasonic 151. Next up there's the Sony FX1000 and the FX7 (HDV to tape ot CF). 16:9 is most certainly here and (correctly)there's no other choice, but you can choose to have one big CMOS chip (the Canon HV40) or three CMOS chips (the FX1000) or three CCDs (151, XH-A1, HM100). I've written much in Positive image on the differences - have you read my articles?

I wouldn't worry too much about storage when you buy a camcorder. Tape is amazingly cheap and reliable. Solid state is dearer but should be even more reliable. It's much better to choose a camcorder because you like the ergonomics, the back-up, the reputation. You'll not see the difference between 1440 and 1920 until you get to the EX1 class of camera, so relax.

tom.
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ADBest
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Re: Your next Camcorder?

Post by ADBest »

Tom thank you very much for your patient reply. I have a long way to go in understanding the first principles of video format storage and should not waste your time until I have read whatever is readily available on the subject.

I have not read your articles as I rely on the club copy of the IAC magazine and these are somewhat uncertain in their circulation. (Perhaps I should convert one of my birthday or Christmas presents into a personal membership).

Are the articles archived on line? If not then I will have a go at tracking down the club copies.

The light has at least dawned on the basic difference between compression within a frame and compression applied to a group of frames and the need for significant computing power to return the latter to frame by frame data.

I will now see what I can find on the basics of compression and de-compression and research the camcorders you mentioned.

My philosophy on computer upgrades is to stay a little behind the state of the art specifications mainly for reasons of financial economy and my present configuration is as follows. Before investing in a new camcorder it would be reassuring to know that the present kit is up to the task. My editing system is Premier Pro.


Computer Profile Summary
Computer Name: User-f2c486ccfc (in MSHOME) — Main PC
Profile Date: 24 July 2009 11:29:41
Advisor Version: 7.2x
Windows Logon: Administrator


Operating System System Model
Windows XP Professional Service Pack 3 (build 2600) SiS Technology Inc. SiS661FX + SiS964
Enclosure Type: Desktop
Processor a Main Circuit Board b
3.00 gigahertz Intel Pentium 4
16 kilobyte primary memory cache
2048 kilobyte secondary memory cache Board: http://www.abit.com.tw SG-80 (SiS 661FX-964) V1.0
Bus Clock: 200 megahertz
BIOS: Phoenix Technologies, LTD 6.00 PG 10/26/2005
Drives Memory Modules c,d
550.12 Gigabytes Usable Hard Drive Capacity
431.57 Gigabytes Hard Drive Free Space

LITE-ON DVD SOHD-167T [CD-ROM drive]
LITE-ON DVDRW SOHW-1633S [CD-ROM drive]

HP USB Device [Hard drive] -- drive 2
Maxtor 6L300S0 [Hard drive] (300.07 GB) -- drive 1, s/n L60KZRXH, rev BANC1G10, SMART Status: Healthy
WDC WD2500AAKS-22VSA0 [Hard drive] (250.06 GB) -- drive 0, s/n WD-WMART1762796, rev 01.01B01, SMART Status: Healthy 2048 Megabytes Installed Memory

Slot 'A0' has 1024 MB
Slot 'A1' has 1024 MB
Local Drive Volumes

c: (NTFS on drive 0) 250.06 GB 209.21 GB free
m: (NTFS on drive 1) 10.49 GB 6.94 GB free
n: (NTFS on drive 1) 10.49 GB 8.34 GB free
o: (NTFS on drive 1) 279.09 GB 207.08 GB free

Thanks again

Arthur
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billyfromConsett
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Re: Your next Camcorder?

Post by billyfromConsett »

Hello Arthur
I've recently moved into hi-def film-making after doing standard def for a number of years. My standard def computer rig is similar to yours - I've a Pentium 4 3.2ghz CPU with 2gb of memory and a couple of internal hard drives. This spec is fine for standard def editing but I would think it would struggle to edit hi-def, without an intermediate codec changing app (though I know little about these). I've heard Cineform do a good app for this.

There's another thread that talks about what's needed for hi-def editing and looks at the main formats that us domestic consumers use - HDV, AVCHD, and AppleMac. Your rig might just about run with editing HDV, but I guess if it did, it would keep you waiting about for long rendering.

NB - go on man, do the smart thing, get yourself a subscription and see all the techy articles delivered through your letterbox! :wink:
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Dave Watterson
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Re: Your next Camcorder?

Post by Dave Watterson »

NB - go on man, do the smart thing, get yourself a subscription and see all the techy articles delivered through your letterbox! :wink:
Thanks for the plug, Billy. Individual IAC membership is a fair price at 37 pounds 50 pence, but it is worth getting. The details are at http://www.theiac.org.uk/central/member.htm Remember that membership also gets you access to the special music copyright licences which can avoid all sorts of trouble.
Are the articles archived on line?

Hmm - no, Tom's articles are not online. Obviously articles from current and recent issues of 'Film & Video Maker' rarely go on the website at the same time. That way IAC members see them first. (It also works the other way with some articles - like the "Making Of" series usually starting on the website and later making their way into the magazine.)
Would it be useful to have some of Tom's older articles online? In many cases he is talking about current kit and developments. Such references can become out of date quickly ... but it is a nice idea. What do you think, Tom?

Dave
ned c
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Re: Your next Camcorder?

Post by ned c »

Obviously there is crossover between this thread and the thread on HD editing as we are all working with "systems" to deliver edited programs. I have three camcorders that are in regular use: Canon XH A1 (HDV tape), Canon HV 20 (HDV tape) and a Panasonic HDC-SD 100 (AVCHD; SDHC card). I edit using FCP 5 for HDV and FC Express 4 for AVCHD. I release on both standard definition recorded DVDs and "Blu Ray" recorded on standard (4.7 GB) DVDs using Toast and get about 20 minutes of HD video on.

My experience with these long GOP codecs has been good; I have experienced one drop out on tape in about 100 hours of shooting so this is not really an issue. There is no doubt that tape is on its way out but Sony introduced new tape based professional HDV cameras last year so it will be with us for some time to come.

My advice to any club member in the market for a new camcorder would be to go wth a card based (eg SDHC) camera rather than a disk drive; capable of recording at a high bit rate eg 17 mbps plus (the Canon HF 10 and HF S100 record at 24 mbps with a 1/2 inch CMOS chip). Big chips plus high bit rate equal potential for a very high quality image.

The computer is an essential part of the workflow and Tom is right, we need lots of "grunt" to edit AVCHD, more than we need for HDV. Now that FCP 7 is out I will purchase a new Mac with 8 GB of RAM and a quad processor. (note: I am in the USA so work in 30i).

Exciting times, I'm glad I lived this long!!!

ned c
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ADBest
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Re: Your next Camcorder?

Post by ADBest »

As Bomber Harris is alleged to have said of others “I have sown the wind and now reap the whirlwind”.

Let me get my own expertise, or more accurately, lack of it, into perspective. I did say that the majority of our club members, including myself, lie between the non-editing holiday ‘snapper’ and the semi-pro or keen AIC clubman.

I suggested we were between the £200 DVD camcorder owner and the £1500 investor. (Although having priced the equipment suggested by Tom I should revise the higher figure to £2000 to £4000).

Our club members are people who spend between £500 and £1000 on our camcorders and produce historical, natural history and travelogue type material for showing to each other on club night.

The drift of my contention is that we have been left between the devil and the deep blue sea. The highly compressed bottom end systems on point and shoot equipment does not have the manual controls we have become used to and records in formats that are not designed for frame accurate editing. On the other hand the new, and apparently better, AVCHD format has set the financial bar, in terms of camcorder investment, computer and editing software investment, too high for us.

For reasons that I propose in my draft club presentation post, the manufacturers have no financial incentive to cater for what I argue is a small segment of the market. We are stranded and, if this is the case, what advice can be given to someone who has been satisfied with miniDV and current editing systems but needs to replace an ageing camcorder and is not prepared to make a £5000 investment.

I am afraid they may decide to look for a new hobby.

I hope that someone can convince me that I am wrong.

Arthur
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billyfromConsett
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Re: Your next Camcorder?

Post by billyfromConsett »

I think that the marketplace we're in isn't all that lonesome actually. There are movie clubs up and down the country that have people in them shooting and editing in one of the versions of HD. Away from our clubs there are more people learning media studies, or stuff like journalism and film studies. Those students won't want to learn defunct and old formats - and the major manufacturers such as Sony, Panasonic, Canon and JVC etal all want their place in the market to sell to you.

They all feel the need to build a camcorder just for you. They know you're worth it. :wink:

Yes it's a modern and new format to embrace and needs learning, but there are loads of options for you to look at.

In my case I had a VX2100 Sony. It's a standard def cam - probably one of the best. But I didn't so much want hi-def - I wanted 16:9, so bought a HDV cam. I bought a Sony Z5, but there also is their FX1000 - it will cost about £2600 thanks to the exchange rate - but it's a brilliant HDV cam with loads of manual adjustment for the really creative lot.

At the consumer end of of the hi-def range there is the Canon HV30 - a cracking little HDV camcorder - costs about £800. I'm sure you could get yourself a great hi-def cam for well under £1000.

The computers needed for HDV (a dual core rig) aren't pricey - I built a computer for a friend three months ago for about £500.

The other thing is mind, is that you can get a new HDV cam, and just edit in standard def mode - in either 4:3 or 16:9 - with your existing computer. HDV allows allows you to shoot in hi-def but download to the edit rig in standard def (the cam will convert the footage itself) and you can keep the 16:9 aspect ratio.

I honestly don't believe that people who've been film-making for any length of time would say that it's now too expensive.
If you want to see any hi-def kit or the qualities of movies they make - PM me
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